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17: Physiology and the Non-Cognitive: Galen's Alternative Approach to Emotion

PART II: Value of the Emotions Cognitive Therapy and the Role of Philosophy
17: Physiology and the Non-Cognitive: Galen's Alternative Approach to Emotion
I have concentrated on those ancient approaches both therapies and analyses of the emotions which were cognitive and rationalistic the principal exception being Posidonius’ insistence on irrational psychological forces. But there was also a tradition and Posidonius was part of it which laid very great stress on the physiology of emotion.
The theory of physical blends

One of the most physicalistic accounts of emotion was the view that emotions depend on bodily states especially on the blend of hot cold fluid and dry in the body. Two of the thinkers who held this Posidonius and Galen concluded that any therapy of the emotions needs to attend to the body and in this they were following Plato. Galen wrote a whole treatise That the Capacities [dunameis] of the Mind Follow [hepesthai] the Blends in the Body (Quod animi mores or QAM for short). As the following passage says good blends are produced by the right food drink and daily activities:

That psychological capacities follow the blends in the body is something that I have not once or twice but very often tested and explored in many ways not only on my own but from the beginning together with my teachers and later with the best philosophers. I have found the proposition both true in every case and useful to those wanting psychological improvement. For as I spelt out in the treatise on habits we produce a good blend through food and drink and daily activities and from this blend we shall contribute to excellence for the soul as the followers of Pythagoras and Plato and certain others of the ancients are said to have done.1
Reactions in Aristotle's school to Plato's Phaedo
Galen had a physicalist view not only of the soul's capacities but also of the soul itself and in the latter form his view went back to a theory described and rejected by Plato in the fourth century BC in the Phaedo that the soul is the harmonious attunement (harmonia) or blend (krasis—the same word is used) of the hot cold fluid and dry in the body.2 Plato's Socrates replies that the attunement of a lyre conforms to or follows (hepesthai—same word) the lyre's physical condition and cannot like the soul oppose the body.3 And Aristotle adds the reply that the soul unlike an attunement originates changes (kinei).4
Despite Aristotle's opposition some members of Aristotle's school were very attracted by the theory. The history of this reaction has been made very accessible to philosophers in recent work by Victor Caston.5 Aristoxenus suggested that the soul was a harmonia of organs and limbs6 Dicaearchus that it was nothing but a harmonia of hot cold fluid and dry in the body.7 He was understood but perhaps wrongly to mean that the capacity (vis) by which we act is only a harmonia and not a soul at all.8 Their contemporary as head of Plato's school Xenocrates is taken by Andronicus another Aristotelian to be endorsing the harmonia theory when he says that the soul is a number: on this interpretation the soul is the numerical ratio of the attunement.9 Aristotle wonders whether still earlier Empedocles had taken such a view.10 Judging from Galen Andronicus evidently tried to meet Aristotle's objection to harmonia theory by a refinement. The soul is either a bodily blend or a capacity (dunamis) following the blend.
Galen and Posidonius
Galen disagrees; he wishes to revert to the older version of the theory:
I strongly commend the Peripatetic Andronicus [name supplied from the Arabic translation] and endorse the man's judgement for I find him like this in many other things too. For like a free man without obscure weaving of words he dared outright to declare the essence of soul a blend (krasis) or capacity (dunamis) of the body. In that he says it is either a blend or a capacity following the blend I criticise the addition of ‘capacity’.11
Galen does make some concessions. He declares that he cannot say whether Plato is right or wrong that the rational (logistikon) part of the soul is immortal 12 so he applies his remarks to the mortal part of the soul.13 But in fact we shall see he goes on to treat rational capacities as equally dependent on bodily blends.
Galen makes another concession not about the soul but about the emotions and other mental capacities which follow the blends. There can be feedback from them on to the blend itself:
Because of the hot blend people become quick-tempered and by their hot temper inflame once again the innate heat.14
This concession fits with Galen's willingness to call traits like hot temper capacities (dunameis) of the soul as he does in the very title of his work. But though such mental states are capacities this is not to concede that the soul is.
Galen applies the thesis that psychological capacities follow blends not only to the intellect but to emotional traits and to emotions and not only in the passage just quoted but elsewhere too.15 And he cites as supporters of the thesis not only Andronicus but Heraclitus16 the Stoics17 Plato's Timaeus and Laws18 Aristotle's Parts of Animals and History of Animals19 and Hippocrates’ Airs Waters Places.20 Many of the passages from Plato Aristotle and Hippocrates concern emotions and emotional traits and it is striking what close parallels to his own view he seems able to provide by careful selection of passages on the effects of blood of seed of humours of climate and of food and drink. He takes the message to be that these all affect our emotional states via their effect on the blend of hot cold fluid and dry in our bodies.
In the Timaeus for example Plato points out how disorders in the body can produce disorders in the soul: two kinds of thoughtlessness (anoia) viz. ignorance and madness (amathia mania) and also defects of character and emotion such as discontent low spirits rashness and cowardice (duskolia dusthumia thrasutēs deilia) as well as forgetfulness and slowness to learn (lēthē dusmathia). When male seed is too copious it can make people mad or senseless (emmanēs aphrōn). The other disorders can be produced by humours. This all needs to be cured (iatika) by nurture exercises and instruction (trophē epitēdeumata mathēmata).21 Galen argues that by nurture Plato means the right food including the wine discussed in Laws book 1 by exercises the gymnastics and music discussed in Republic books 2–3 and Laws book 2 and by instruction the geometry and arithmetic of Republic book 7.22
But for the present I shall write out the passage in the Timaeus in which Plato starts by saying ‘thus all of us who are bad become bad through two most involuntary reasons for which those who beget and nurture (trephein) must be blamed more than those begotten or nourished’. He goes on: ‘We must try however we can through nurture (trophē) exercises (epitēdeumata) and instruction (mathēmata) to avoid bad character and seize its opposite.’ [He says this] because nurture is no less able to remove bad character and generate good than are exercises and instruction. Although by ‘nurture’ is sometimes meant not only a regimen in diet but the entire regimen of the child it cannot be said that nurture is now being spoken of by Plato in its second meaning. For Plato was exhorting not children but grown-ups when he said ‘We must try however we can through nurture exercises and instruction to avoid bad character and seize its opposite.’ So by exercises he means those in gymnastics and music by instruction that in geometry and arithmetic. But he cannot be thinking of any other kind of nurture than that consisting of food gruel and drink in which is included wine which Plato discussed a great deal in the second book of the Laws.
If this is how psychological capacities are based we might imagine there would be a problem about the utility of philosophy for improving our capacities. But Galen protests that his view creates no such problem23 and I shall try to explain why below.
So this account does not do away with the benefits of philosophy but is a guide to them and gives instruction in them. Yet it is to an extent ignored by some philosophers. For those who think that everybody can take on good character and those who think no one chooses justice itself have each only half seen human nature. Not everyone is by nature an enemy of justice nor everyone a friend. People become one or the other because of the blending of their bodily constituents.
Galen thinks the problem about the role and value of philosophy is created not by his own view but by false philosophical conceptions about human nature. And the conception he goes on in particular to attack is that which the Stoics took from Chrysippus. According to this conception humans are all well fitted for acquiring virtue.24 In that case they will not need more than to be set a good example. But the old philosophers knew this was wrong and that children who have been set a good example often turn out bad.25 The person who really got this right was the Stoic Posidonius26 who also followed Plato. The response of Posidonius to Chrysippus is much more fully described in Galen's other work which was the subject of Chapters 6–8 above On the Placita of Hippocrates and Plato (PHP). The extra material there reveals that in some ways Galen goes further in a physicalist direction than Posidonius.
To see what Galen finds to admire in Posidonius we need to turn briefly to Galen's PHP and to some of the Posidonian ideas already encountered in Chapter 6. Galen reports that according to Chrysippus people are born with a natural kinship for virtue and are perverted (diastrophē) if they are by popular talk and the nature of the environment27 or as QAM says by those they live with28 external factors all. By contrast Posidonius says against Chrysippus that bad character comes largely from within.29 Drawing on Posidonius Galen objects that Chrysippus overlooks the affinity of the two irrational parts of the Platonic soul for domination and for pleasure.30 Because of such internal factors we get the phenomenon mentioned in QAM that even children who have been given good habits and a good education can go wrong. In PHP the point seems to be attributed to Posidonius and is said to have been unwillingly conceded even by Chrysippus himself.31
Posidonius’ positive account is in many ways very close to Galen's. Posidonius makes emotional traits depend on physiognomy and in particular on bodily heat and cold. In Chapters 6–8 we concentrated on Posidonius’ ‘emotional movements’ (pathētikai kinēseis) which are irrational movements of the soul. But now we learn that these movements of the soul ‘follow’ (hepesthai) dispositions of the body. And the blend (krasis) of qualities in the environment in turn affects these bodily dispositions.
It is reasonable of Posidonius to add to these remarks the observations of physiognomy: all humans and animals that have broad chests and are hotter are more irascible (thumikōtera) by nature; those who have broad hips and are colder are more cowardly. And humans differ by geographical location in no small way in their characters as regards cowardice daring love of pleasure or of work which suggests that the emotional movements of the soul always follow (hepesthai) the body's disposition in respect of which people are not insignificantly altered by the blend (krasis) in the environment. For he says that the blood differs in animals in respect of heat coldness thickness and thinness and in not a few other characteristics—characteristics which Aristotle discussed at length.32
Posidonius and Galen agree to a large extent on the implications of this very physical account for moral education. Posidonius endorses Plato's regimen (diaita) for the expectant mother in respect of food and drink (trophai pōmata) exercises and rest (gumnasia hēsukhiai) sleep and waking appetite and anger (epithumiai thumoi) along with the nourishment (trophē) and training (paideia) of the child.33 Posidonius sees this training as an irrational habituation (alogos ethismos) by good exercises (epitēdeumata)34 which works on the irrational or emotional powers of the soul as Posidonius calls them which have to do with appetite and anger.35 The upbringing (askēsis) would include the right rhythms and scales to work on one of the irrational powers of the soul the spirited power.36
For Posidonius as for Galen food and drink are relevant to emotional training as securing the right balance of bodily qualities. Music and rhythm are relevant in a different way. I have argued in Chapter 5 that for Posidonius as for Chrysippus37 and Plato38 the soul engages in spatial movements and that just as in Plato39 the movements set up in the body by sounds can affect the movements of the soul.
But what about the education of our reason? Plato had seen music and gymnastics as helping to balance the spirited and philosophical tendencies of the soul.40 But Posidonius thinks the education of reason must be different. We need two distinct types of education a rational one for our rational powers and an irrational one for our irrational and emotional powers. After all
Help and harm come to the irrational through irrational things and to the rational through understanding and ignorance.41
What reason needs is rational instruction (didaskalia logikē) to give understanding of the nature of things (epistēmē tēs tōn ontōn phuseōs) and of the truth (epistēmē tōn alēthōn).42 Galen seems to endorse this and what is striking is that it appears to give an immediate role to philosophy as a source of rational instruction. It fits with this that in yet another treatise On the Passions and Errors of the Soul Galen gives conventional rationalistic advice on how to control the emotions some of which has already been mentioned in Chapter 15.
But curiously this is not the role that Galen stresses in the treatise on capacities following blends when he raises the question whether he is allowing a place to the services of philosophy. Moreover in several ways Galen seems to give a more physicalistic account in this treatise than he ascribed to Posidonius in PHP.43 First he repeatedly insists that our rational capacities also follow the blend of the body whereas Posidonius44 had made this point only about the irrational capacities. This in turn means secondly that Galen rejects Posidonius’ view that only rational therapies can help the rational capacities. Thirdly Galen we have seen insists that the soul is not a capacity.45 In addition Galen attacks in the treatise on capacities following blends those who admit that bodily disease impedes the soul but deny that in bodily health the soul is either helped or hindered by the body.46 In reply Galen as a doctor offers to help people's emotional character by advising them on food drink and climate:
So now at least let those come to their senses who are displeased that food can make (ergazesthai) people more sensible or more licentious more in command or less in command of themselves bold or cowardly mild and gentle or contentious and competitive. Let them come to me to learn what they should eat and what drink. For they will be greatly helped towards ethical philosophy and in addition they will progress towards excellence in the capacities of the rational part by improving their intelligence and memory. Besides food and drink I shall also teach about winds and the blends (kraseis) in the environment and about what locations one should choose and avoid.47
Despite the more physicalistic approach in the treatise on capacities following blends Galen has it seems left room for philosophy to offer rational instruction as Posidonius would wish. Witness his appeal in the passage just quoted to ethical philosophy and progress towards excellence in rational capacities. This fits too with the reference already noticed to Plato requiring education to cover not only food and drink gymnastics and music but also instruction (mathēmata) in geometry and arithmetic.48 This we saw almost immediately precedes the question about philosophy's role.
Even when Galen gives his non-philosophical advice on food drink and climate he seeks his justification in philosophy. It is the analysis of the soul as a blend of the body and of mental characteristics as following the body's blends which he takes as his justification for giving this advice. That I think is why he is so confident that he is giving a role to philosophy. In Galen and Posidonius we have yet another example to put beside those in Chapter 11 of how philosophical analysis can be relevant to life. This time the philosophical analysis of soul and of mental states is relevant as a justification for educational practice involving diet and music.
Galen raises an objection to himself. If character is due to bodily blends how can we praise and blame people? Galen gives the tough reply that we can still love or hate welcome or avoid just as we do with scorpions and the death penalty would still serve its standard purposes.49
Alexander of Aphrodisias as head of the Aristotelian school was often opposed to his Platonizing contemporary Galen. But on this issue they have certain things in common and particularly so on the idea that emotions depend on bodily states. For this much at least had been clearly said by Aristotle and in the following passage Alexander is doing little more than paraphrasing him.
That the soul is the form of the body is also shown by the fact that changes corresponding to the soul also correspond to the preparedness of the body. For sometimes we are not affected at all or only superficially and for a little despite the strength of the external causes which can excite anger fear appetite or some other such emotion. At other times we are excessively impassioned though the external factors are small and trifling. That is whenever the body is swollen and prepared and ready for emotion either through some lack or through surfeit or through a juxtaposition of humours. For we are more readily angry when bile is in excess and we are often frightened or distressed at trifles through our body being disposed that way.50
In a similar vein Alexander says that different perceptual powers are caused by (aitia) different bodily blends.51
The question whether the soul is a bodily blend is different from the question whether emotions and perceptual powers depend on bodily blends. On the soul there is more distance between Alexander's view and Galen's. He says that the soul is a form (eidos) or capacity (dunamis) which in some sense—not necessarily the modern one—supervenes (epiginetai) on the blend of bodily ingredients.52 And the same is said by Alexander or somebody about the material intellect.53 Alexander diverges even from his Aristotelian predecessor Andronicus who is quoted above as saying not that the soul supervenes on but that it follows a blend.54 Alexander insists rightly that his view is in an important respect very different from the idea that the soul is a blend. It supervenes on a bodily blend but it is a capacity and so has the efficacy which Aristotle insists on and finds lacking in a mere harmony.55 Referring to medicine and therefore perhaps to Galen Alexander says that the concept of a harmony would be more applicable to physical health.
It must not be supposed that the soul is being called a harmony by those who say that it is a form supervening on such and such a mixture and blend of the bodies that underlie it. For if the soul cannot exist without such a blend and mixture that does not mean that it is identical with the blend. For the soul is not the suchlike blend of bodies which would be a harmony but the capacity (dunamis) supervening on such a blend.56
Health could more plausibly than the soul be called a harmony. It is nearer than the soul to a harmony for health is a symmetry of certain things and that symmetry is a combination and mixture according to some ratio. But the soul is not the symmetry but the capacity that arises upon the symmetry. It cannot exist without this symmetry but it is not the symmetry.57
This instrument is called potential intellect a capacity supervening on such-and-such a blend of bodies.58
Alexander refers to the Stoic doctrine that the soul is a mixture of fire and air to Epicurus’ that it is a compound of atoms and to Plato's Timaeus which makes the soul's essence come from a combination of the circles of the same and the different. These doctrines he says are closer than his to the view that the soul is a harmony:
The soul would be a harmony more for people who speak like this than for someone who says that it is a state and capacity and form that supervenes on such and such a blend and mixture of the simple bodies.59
Alexander tells us more about the efficacy not admittedly of the soul but of desire (orexis) and of the desiring factor in us (to orektikon). Desire is an origin of change (arkhē kinēseōs) in the body and the desiring factor is described by Alexander with a Stoic term as commanding (hēgemonikon) although Alexander makes the very un-Stoic point that there are two commanding factors in us one in the sphere of judgement and this one in the sphere of action:
Just as in the sphere of judgement there is something that commands and something that facilitates so also in the sphere of action there is something that commands which we call capable of impulse and desire (hormētikon orektikon) while the other is in the nerves. For there is also a capacity in the nerves by which the body facilitates the activities that accord with impulse. Whatever is done in accordance with desire is done through instilling an experience (pathos) and of these experiences some relax the body and enlarge its members by means of well-blended heat while others produce cooling and shrinking (sustellein). Appearances perceptions and thoughts of things arise with a certain likeness to the things as if at their actual occurrence and relax the body or make it shrink and shiver. These shrinkings and enlargements occur in the region of the connate breath (pneuma) and are passed on from it to the nerves and the nerves can be activated with movements conforming to impulse getting their origin of movement from desire.60
Plato and Aristotle
Since Plato's Socrates and Aristotle both reject the theory that the soul is the harmony of the body how can they have been in any way associated with it? The case for Aristotle is clearest. Alexander believes that by making the soul not a blend but a capacity supervening on a blend he meets all Aristotle's desiderata.
The case for Aristotle believing that emotions follow the state of the body is even clearer. The text of Aristotle which Alexander paraphrases is the following:
All the emotions (pathē) of the soul appear similarly to be accompanied by the body: anger pacific feelings fear pity boldness and again joy and both loving and hating. For the body is affected along with these. This is indicated by the fact that sometimes we are not at all irritated or frightened even though clear and powerful troubles are befalling us while at other times we are stirred by small and insignificant things when the body is swollen and is in the same state as when we are angry. Again it is still more obvious that people get in the emotional state of a frightened person when nothing frightening is happening. If so it is clear that emotions are principles embedded in matter (logoi enuloi) so that their definitions are for example like this: being angry is a certain change in a body of such and such a sort or in a part or a capacity of it caused by this and serving this purpose.61
Aristotle goes on to say that the full definition of anger would include as matter a boiling of the blood or warm stuff around the heart and as form the desire to retaliate.62 Galen is able to cite in addition Aristotle's discussion elsewhere of how differences in the temperature thickness and texture of the blood account for courage cowardice fear anger getting to be besides oneself and other character traits.63
As for Plato there is no evidence that he thought of the soul as a bodily blend but he did think that mental states and characteristics often follow bodily states. Galen is able to show that in passages partly discussed above from the Timaeus Plato thinks that climate affects intelligence that bodily disturbances in the newly incarnated impede thought although education (paideusis) may help that a superfluity of seed in males does the same64 and that humours can produce low spirits (dusthumia) rashness (thrasutēs) and cowardice (deilia) as well as forgetfulness and slowness to learn.65 According to the Laws climate water and available produce make people better or worse (Galen reads Plato's text as saying they are sometimes made shameless).66 Wine can madden (emmanē) people or make them forget low spirits (dusthumia) become optimistic (euelpis) bold (tharraleos) and shameless (anaiskhunteros).67
One very important difference I have argued in Chapter 5 between Plato and Aristotle is that Plato thinks the soul engages in spatial movements and this same belief is what enables Posidonius to explain the effect of musical sound and rhythm on the soul's movements.
Even the Epicureans take over this tradition. There are variations: the mind itself being material takes on heat and cold. But we find the same view that teaching (doctrina) can help though only up to a point. For the first traces of the hot or cold nature can never be completely eradicated as the Stoics would wish. Nor are the Stoics right to distinguish clemency (or mercy) as acceptable from pity which is an emotion. Clemency too can be overdone. Lucretius further uses the Platonic idea of following (sequaces) when he says that character follows the hot or cold nature:
Such is the human race. Although teaching (doctrina) gives some people an equal polish it still leaves the first traces of the nature of each individual's mind. Nor should it be thought that evils can be plucked out by the root (radicitus evelli) so as to prevent this person falling more precipitately into fierce anger that one being a little more quickly tempted by fear and a third accepting certain things with more clemency than is right (clementius aequo). The natures of humans must differ in many other respects and the characters that follow (sequaces) their natures.68
Some of the Neoplatonists reject Galen's thesis that capacities of the soul follow the blends in the body. But in doing so Proclus has to be careful because he knows that Galen is able to cite Plato in his favour. Proclus refers in two works to Plato's suggestion that the strong currents in children's bodies and in the bodies of our original ancestors when they were first created interfered with thinking. Plato none the less believes that education (paideusis) helps.69 In one work Proclus rejects the view of those who interpret the passage by saying that it is the initial lack of proportion in the body's fluidity which makes children thoughtless.70 This view appears not only to be in Plato and endorsed by Galen but also to be offered by Calcidius as one of two explanations of the child's lack of tranquillity.71 In another work addressing Galen's use of the same passage Proclus draws a distinction but one that had already been ascribed by Galen to earlier Platonists and attacked as incompatible with Plato.72 The body can interfere with thinking but it cannot assist it. What supplies assistance is education (paideia). Moreover the body interferes only like a chattering neighbour. The soul is not really disturbed but as it were sees its reflection disturbed in the waters of the body. His view turns out to be73 that the activities of the soul can be disturbed but not its essence.
Galen would say that psychological capacities follow the blends in the body and that the soul is thoughtless (anous) and unsettled when the body is fluid and unsettled and flowing in every direction but is straightened up and becomes reflective (emphrōn) when the body settles into a proportionate blend. How shall we concede that? It is not right to make the immortal soul which exists before the body think because of the body. Rather we should say that the body sometimes becomes an obstacle to the soul's leading an orderly life and sometimes gives less trouble. It is just as by living next to a silly chattering neighbour we would not be made more thoughtful because of him. But he is capable of interfering more or less with our having a peaceful life. That is how the complexion of the body sometimes disturbs the soul and sometimes reduces its hubbub so that the soul gets some quiet. That soul is more in a natural state than the disturbed soul but even it is not until education (paideia) is added to it. So the body can prevent reflective living but cannot in any way produce it.74
It should not be thought on this account that the soul is affected. It is as if someone standing on a promontory made his image and form appear in a flowing river and kept his face unmoved while the river by flowing changed his image in every sort of way. Thus it would show it now this way now that sideways and upright maybe and fragmented and continuous. Seeing this he might through unfamiliarity with the effect think he was seeing himself being affected though he was only seeing his shadow in the water and thinking this he might be pained bewildered shocked and frustrated. In the same way the soul too in seeing its image in the body flowing in the river of coming to be and disposed now this way now that by effects (pathē) from within and incursions from without though it is unaffected (apathēs) thinks that it is being affected because it does not know itself and thinks its image is itself and is bewildered shocked and perplexed. This effect occurs especially in newborn children and is found also in adults in dreams. For example when one's natural organs are having trouble digesting food one thinks in a dream that one is having trouble walking or carrying burdens or being affected in some other such way. From this one can see what the effects suffered by children are like.75
Philoponus on supervening following and resulting
We have seen that Posidonius made the emotional movements of the soul follow (hepesthai) the bodily dispositions76 and that Galen made capacities of the soul follow the body's blends. Going further Galen represented the mortal soul as being a blend like Socrates’ interlocutors in the Phaedo but reported Andronicus as making it instead a capacity following the blend. The word ‘follow’ here seems to respond to Socrates’ objection in the Phaedo that the soul cannot be a blend or harmony because a harmony follows physical conditions. Andronicus makes the soul lead by presenting it as a capacity but none the less allows that it follows the blend or harmony which Socrates had presented as itself following physical conditions.
Alexander speaking of the soul substituted for Andronicus’ talk of its following the bodily blend the idea of its supervening (epiginesthai) on the blend. And Philoponus applied this distinction also to the soul's mental capacities and activities. Perception is a capacity that supervenes on a blend.77 He makes explicit the contrast between something's supervening and its following on (hepesthai) or being a result of (apotelesma) the blend.78 The blend is merely fit (epitēdeios)79 but not sufficient for the presence of the psychological capacity. It is true that different blends are required for different capacities.80 But it can be shown against the doctors (notably Galen I presume) that mental states do not follow blends necessarily for the doctors admit that philosophy can counteract our bodily blends.81 Philoponus ascribes this reply to the Attic commentators’ i.e. to representatives of the Athenian Neoplatonist school although the issue we saw had been raised already by the Epicureans and Philoponus’ answer was in the Socratic tradition. Socrates supposedly defended the physiognomist Zopyrus for saying that he (Socrates) was stupid and addicted to women by saying that those were indeed his inborn characteristics but he had overcome them by reason (ratio).82
Hence doctors have said that psychological capacities follow the blends in the body. Against this the Attic commentators say that just as the doctors infer that the soul has the body as its substrate in which to inhere on the grounds that such-and-such psychological impulses follow the blends in the body so we can establish the opposite result from the opposite premiss. For if the soul's inseparability from the body follows from its impulses following bodily blends it will then be separable if it does not follow these blends. Now we see that through philosophy even people with bad blends have not had corresponding impulses but have overcome the blends. This would not have happened if their capacity had had the blend as a substrate in which to inhere. One cannot stop being pale or sallow or dark which arises from (ginesthai ek) such-and-such a blend even if one philosophizes ten thousand times until the blend is changed. Thus if such and such a psychological impulse happened as a result (apotelesma) of one's blend it ought to have been quite impossible for a person to refrain from anger if his blend was in the direction of anger and similarly for other cases. But as it is that does not happen. So psychological impulses do not necessarily follow bodily blends. And the doctors themselves say this for after saying that psychological capacities follow bodily blends they add ‘apart from the philosophical way of life’. So if the philosophical way of life can prevent psychological impulse following bodily blends then there is something that is up to us and they do not follow of necessity. And the being of impulses does not consist in the blend for if it did how would the philosophical way of life counteract emotions? From what would the truceless battle of reason and the passions arise? For nothing fights with the body that is its salvation or strives to quarrel with its own cause. So if the blend were the cause of all psychological changes it would never fight against itself. It is opposites that fight each other.83
In the foregoing passage pale dark and sallow are contrasted with psychological characteristics. But elsewhere even colours are said merely to supervene on the fitness of the blend and not to be apotelesmata (previously translated ‘results’) of the blend although they can be said to follow (hepesthai) the blend (Philoponus In GC 169. 17; 170. 28). Why is this? We are told in a continuation84 of the passage next translated that a particular shade conforms (kata) not to a particular blend or numerical proportion of hot cold fluid and dry but to a range (platos) of such proportions and a given flavour corresponds to a different but possibly overlapping range. We can infer that because of the invariability each follows from its range and from any proportion within the range. But Philoponus still does not think the colour or flavour is a result explained (apotelesma) by the range or by any proportion within it. Why not? First it would have to be the range rather than any proportion within it which explained the colour as opposed to the flavour. Secondly not even the range explains because matter alone without form cannot fully explain. Moreover Philoponus thinks the colour-forms which supervene on the range of material proportions are created by God. Hence his reference to the forms coming from outside from the Creator's work as a whole (169. 7–8).
The same absurdity would seem to follow both for those like the doctors who say that forms are results explained by (apotelesmata) blends and for those who say as the correct account has it that forms are not results explained by blends but coming from outside from the Creator's work as a whole they supervene (epiginesthai) on the fitness (epitēdeiotēs) of the blend. For if forms were results explained by blends since what follows (hepesthai) that sort of proportion in the primary blend I mean in the blend of dry with fluid and hot with cold ingredients is a number of qualities (such-and-such a colour flavour softness hardness and the like) it is evidently clear that the thing will in conformity with (kata) the same ratio be sweet red fluid hot and so on. Hence if all these [qualities] exist in conformity with the same ratio a thing that is qualified by one will be qualified also by the remainder. Thus if it is active in conformity with one [quality] and passive in conformity with another it will then be passive and active in conformity with the same thing since it is in conformity with the same ratio that it is both.85
But if forms are not results explained by blends but coming from outside follow the fitness of blends clearly the different qualities will have supervened in conformity with the same repeated fitness. But if different qualities have supervened in conformity with the same ratio of fitness the same absurdity will follow again if it is active by [dative case] one quality and passive by another since it will be passive and active in conformity with the same thing. Thus the same absurdity has followed from the true account as well.
It is worth seeking then and it would be an enquiry in its own right how the different forms either result from the same blend or as the truer account has it how different forms supervene on the same fitness since it is clear in advance that the forms are not simply results of the blends.86
Philoponus does however allow that a physiological change is involved when learning makes us less irascible or leads us to understand something. The direction of causation is opposite to that chiefly emphasized by Galen (though Galen does recognize feedback QAM 79. 4–7) because the learning produces the physiological change. This qualifies the earlier claim that philosophy can counteract the body: in doing so it evidently acts via the body. The passage is remarkable in other ways too. First it shows a vivid appreciation of communication in the lecture room. Secondly it is significant for our knowledge of other minds: it is the facial reflection of physiological changes which enables the lecturer to know if he has been understood. The passage comes from Philoponus In Phys. 7 translated by Paul Lettinck p. 125 from Arabic 771. 21–772. 3:
Furthermore those who frequently attend lectures on the disciplines of knowledge get lean and dry bodies which results in their (not) easily becoming annoyed. Also if there were not those alterations and affections connected with the body we would not be able to explain the expressions in the face of someone showing that he has understood what we say and the other expressions showing that he has not understood us.
Augustine attacks not only the view that the soul is a body but also the view that it is a blend (temperatio) or harmony (compago) of the body. He does so by using the argument later adapted by Descartes. We cannot doubt that we are alive remember understand went think know and judge for doubting would involve precisely these activities. Thus the soul knows itself with certainty and hence knows its essence (substantia) with certainty. But it is not certain whether it is material. So it is not. A further sign that it is not is the fact that it uses imagination to consider the various material things it fancies it might be. But if it were one of these things it would not need imagination for nothing is more directly present to the soul than itself.87
Galen's view continued to provoke reaction among Islamic philosophers but for a different reason. If even our reason were dependent on bodily blends as Galen says it would perish at death and this leads to the view that with no punishment to be feared in the next life we can abandon ourselves to our passions like beasts.88
Implications for non-cognitive therapy
So much for the dependence of the soul and of emotions on bodily blends. We have already seen that the idea has implications for emotional therapy and leads Posidonius and Galen following Plato to insist on the right diet and on a whole regimen covering the expectant mother and the child of exercise rest sleep and wordless music. To this Plato adds the child's whole aesthetic environment as Myles Burnyeat has emphasized:89 painting weaving embroidery architecture and furniture. To complete the account of non-cognitive therapies I should draw attention to some of the others that flourished. Some were physiological.
Other physical therapies
Porphyry's rejection of meat to forestall lust is one kind of physical therapy90 and there was a Pythagorean tradition that a sparse vegetarian diet promotes virtue health reason and prophetic power and reduces the need for sleep.91 Plotinus too is said to have shortened his sleep by a reduced diet.92 Breathing exercises are found in the magical papyri.93 They are of a hyper-inflationary kind designed to give you the impression of being lifted into mid-air and of seeing the gods.
Other non-judgemental therapies
Some therapies were cognitive without being judgemental. Epicurus we have seen treats distress not only by switching belief but also by switching attention; the Pyrrhonian sceptics not by switching belief but by suspending it.94 Porphyry's regimen of avoiding temptation will not directly produce the right thoughts but is meant to prevent the wrong ones.95
Behaviour therapy
Behaviour therapy often overlaps with cognitive therapy but there is an interesting example in which it does not in Socrates’ alleged technique for avoiding anger. He did so simply by changing his demeanour:
So whenever Socrates noticed himself being moved to treat a friend rather roughly he took in his sails ‘before the storm along the headland’ lowered his voice put a smile on his face softened his gaze and stopped himself falling and being beaten by leaning the other way and tilting against the emotion.96
This idea was taken much further by William James's thesis:
We feel sorry because we cry angry because we strike afraid because we tremble.97
It has been repeatedly confirmed by modern studies of facial expression posture and gaze that feedback about these can affect emotion.98 The success of behavioural therapy appears to have a neural basis.99
Much more commonly behaviour therapy and cognitive therapy overlap. The Pythagorean practice borrowed by Seneca of looking in a mirror to avoid anger100 depends on a cognition as well as on behaviour. You have to notice that anger makes you ugly. Admittedly Socrates’ behaviour in smiling might eventually lead to a change of judgement about wrong suffered and the appropriateness of retaliation. But looking in a mirror effects such a change of judgement via an intermediate recognition of ugliness. Socrates’ smiling does not depend on an intermediate cognition and so is a behavioural therapy without being cognitive.
We have encountered other examples of behavioural therapy too; Plutarch's exercises for eliminating curiosity and complaisance Seneca's partly physical therapies borrowed from the Pythagoreans about avoiding soft pillows and hot baths. These were precautionary disciplines practised in advance and it is less clear how far their efficacy depended on intervening judgements.